Questions you want answered.

Alright all. I took your advice and swapped out the crappy turntable for the one in the $300 range. I'm a tiny bit near my maximum I want to spend, but if I space out what I buy (most likely not going to buy the turntable until taxes are in), it shouldn't be too bad!

Any tips I should consider when building my first home theater system beyond "good luck" and "be grounded"?

Vrikk wrote:

Any tips I should consider when building my first home theater system beyond "good luck" and "be grounded"?

Is space an issue?

No. The wall that the TV will be snug again is pretty much free of anything else, so I have options of what I want to put around it beyond the speakers, receiver, and turntable (like DVD/CD racks, etc). Still deciding if I want to wall mount the TV to add more space, but that largely depends on if it gets a bit too cluttered.

Vrikk wrote:

Alright all. I took your advice and swapped out the crappy turntable for the one in the $300 range. I'm a tiny bit near my maximum I want to spend, but if I space out what I buy (most likely not going to buy the turntable until taxes are in), it shouldn't be too bad!

Any tips I should consider when building my first home theater system beyond "good luck" and "be grounded"?

Unless you're poking around in the innards of your components, or you live in a house made of balloons, "be grounded" is probably overkill. At most, I make sure to touch the metal case of the receiver (which is likely grounded itself) to discharge any static buildup before I touch any connectors on the back.

Take your time when installing banana plugs to make them neat and the connection robust. Monoprice has a good how-to video that I used the first time I did it.

Use the shortest speaker cable runs you can (i.e. don't have a bunch of excess cable). Longer cables = more noise.

My best advice would be to be prepared to experiment. Try various positions for your speakers.

I checked the current list which is at $980.00. You could definitely downgrade the turntable to the one that SixteenBlue recommended from the Rega RP1 that I initially recommended and be very happy with it. That would save you $150.00 and put you at $830. That would give you a great starter turntable and you could always upgrade the cartridge or motor if you ever felt the need to throw more money at it.

With the extra money saved, I would get a good dust brush. I have the AudioQuest one that's most popular on Amazon and sells for about $25.00. I'm not all that happy with it. It works, but it's a little cheap and never gets all the dust. I would get this one that is $30 if I had to do it all over again. Brushes are just for getting dust off, not cleaning. If you have really old records that are grimy, you can get a simple cleaner. If you are starting your collection out with new stuff, though, there's really no need to buy one of those starting out.

Is it just me or is it impossible to get Perfect World login setup to work?

I can never log into that service. I want to play Neverwinter some day.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

If you are starting your collection out with new stuff, though, there's really no need to buy one of those starting out.

Thanks. I swapped in the Pro-Ject III instead of the Rega. Any bit of money saved is worth it! Added that dust brush to the Wish List too.

Regarding what I'm going to buy, I'm most likely staying towards the old stuff since most new albums were recorded with digital devices/non-mono turntables in mind. I'm not planning on blowing up my extra storage space with records, but I definitely want at least 1-2 dozen when I'm done. Quality over quantity.

Besides, I have everything I want on my iPod so there's no reason to duplicate my collection.

Vrikk wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

If you are starting your collection out with new stuff, though, there's really no need to buy one of those starting out.

Thanks. I swapped in the Pro-Ject III instead of the Rega. Any bit of money saved is worth it! Added that dust brush to the Wish List too.

Regarding what I'm going to buy, I'm most likely staying towards the old stuff since most new albums were recorded with digital devices/non-mono turntables in mind. I'm not planning on blowing up my extra storage space with records, but I definitely want at least 1-2 dozen when I'm done. Quality over quantity.

Besides, I have everything I want on my iPod so there's no reason to duplicate my collection.

There speaks a man who hasn't heard what vinyl in the right setup can do for a piece of music. Especially the older stuff.

That's a good start, but don't get too down on yourself if you get hooked and go a bit bonkers with it.

Vinyl offers stereo sound, too! There are even some crazy records that have quadrophonic sound. I don't think that really went anywhere and you would have to have some crazy equipment to utilize it. So, buying new stuff on vinyl is always a great option. Most of the time, newly released vinyl comes with MP3 or even FLAC downloads. Sometimes, they'll even throw in the CD. My favorite record company is Minority Records. They put out the Machinarium soundtrack.

Regarding storing records, a lot of records these days come with paper sleeves. These have a tendency to scratch the surface (not the grooves) of the record. So, while that won't affect the sound quality, it does affect the cosmetic appearance of the record. I've noticed this with my record collection, and it's a little annoying. There are quite a few that do come with the poly lined paper sleeves which are fantastic and won't scratch the vinyl. I've been meaning to do replace all of my paper ones with the poly lined paper ones but haven't gotten around to it.

Getting some 3 mil poly sleeves to store the records in is always a great idea, too. It's nothing you need to do right away, though. Save the money for a few records first.

Lastly, jazz and classical vinyl is freaking cheap. So many people ditched that stuff when CDs came around. The best thing about it is that a lot of those records may have dingy slipcovers but the vinyl is often pristine.

One thing to be forewarned about, though. If you think the console vs PC debate is heated, you won't believe the vinyl vs CD debate! Tread softly there if you want to dig in.

Happy 10,0001 thread posts!

Thanks for all the help. I still think I'm going to stay to the older stuff for a bit simply to get used to listening to vinyl (I have very little experience), but will venture into the newer decades once I'm satisfied.

Now to slowly buy the Wish List pieces one-by-one...

While we're on audiophile topics, I've been doing some experimentation recently as a result of having a half-decent sound system again.

Wife and I started to clean up our digital music library. We found that there were a number of albums that we had 2 digital copies of, from when we merged libraries with a buddy. Oftentimes we had a 128kb/s mp3 version and a 320kb/s mp3 version.

The obvious solution was to dump the lower bitrate version, but just out of interest, we did some "Pepsi Challenges", back-to-back blind listenings to see if we could tell the difference.

Basically, we absolutely could. It was subtle, but it was there. I've since started re-ripping my entire CD collection to a lossless format for maximum audiophile nerditude.

So where's the cool and easy place to start a new blog these days? Bonus points if it lets you be anonymous (although I suppose I could make up a new gmail account).

For the past several years I've used online TurboTax for filing my tax returns. I've also had to pay federal the past few years and this year is no different. I'm filing a joint return with itemized deductions. Would there be any point in trying out other online tax return sites or are the numbers pretty much the numbers? I keep seeing all of these tax sites claiming to get you "bigger returns!" but if everything is being calculated the way it's supposed to I don't see how one site can claim to get you a bigger return than another.

Kehama wrote:

For the past several years I've used online TurboTax for filing my tax returns. I've also had to pay federal the past few years and this year is no different. I'm filing a joint return with itemized deductions. Would there be any point in trying out other online tax return sites or are the numbers pretty much the numbers? I keep seeing all of these tax sites claiming to get you "bigger returns!" but if everything is being calculated the way it's supposed to I don't see how one site can claim to get you a bigger return than another.

I've been using TT for the past few years too, but have only had to pay for State filings (joint, standard deduction, no dependents). I just keep sticking with them because they keep everything on file and I don't have to think about it.

I did use H&R Block a few times when I first got out of college, and never really saw the point in having someone else do my (relatively simple) taxes.

Kehama wrote:

For the past several years I've used online TurboTax for filing my tax returns. I've also had to pay federal the past few years and this year is no different. I'm filing a joint return with itemized deductions. Would there be any point in trying out other online tax return sites or are the numbers pretty much the numbers? I keep seeing all of these tax sites claiming to get you "bigger returns!" but if everything is being calculated the way it's supposed to I don't see how one site can claim to get you a bigger return than another.

Probably different or more extreme knowledge of loopholes you could be expl... oh wait, for online returns? Yeah, nothing should really be different there.

edosan wrote:

So where's the cool and easy place to start a new blog these days? Bonus points if it lets you be anonymous (although I suppose I could make up a new gmail account).

I started using Weebly when I ran into issues with Blogger when Google bought them. I'm quite happy with it so far.

McIrishJihad wrote:
Kehama wrote:

For the past several years I've used online TurboTax for filing my tax returns. I've also had to pay federal the past few years and this year is no different. I'm filing a joint return with itemized deductions. Would there be any point in trying out other online tax return sites or are the numbers pretty much the numbers? I keep seeing all of these tax sites claiming to get you "bigger returns!" but if everything is being calculated the way it's supposed to I don't see how one site can claim to get you a bigger return than another.

I've been using TT for the past few years too, but have only had to pay for State filings (joint, standard deduction, no dependents). I just keep sticking with them because they keep everything on file and I don't have to think about it.

I did use H&R Block a few times when I first got out of college, and never really saw the point in having someone else do my (relatively simple) taxes.

I have been using H&R Block Online for years but it looks like I will need to go see a real person this year since their online "Tax Experts" have let me down. Their software won't let me enter the info from my 1098-T as it appears on the sheet but no-one I have talked to can figure out what I am supposed to do. My Grants and Scholarships (box 7 I think) are greater than both my billed amount and additional expenses combined (my final semester was a short 6 hour one but for some reason I still got a full semester worth of grants and scholarships) so it says I may have to claim the excess as taxable income but nobody I have talked to knows how I can go about that and now they are waiting to charge me before I can get anymore support even though the last person I talked to just gave up and disconnected from the chat session with no warning or anything.

I want an opinion on how to setup my surround sound system. By opinion I mean I want someone to come to the house and tell me the best way to get my living room to sound like a movie theater and maybe tweak my receiver so that I'm getting the best sound out of it. Do people do this? Is it going to cost me a fortune?

I really like the Orb speakers and love how minimalistic (whatever, it's a word even though it's got a squiggly red line under it) they look. I know people generally hate Bose as they are a bit more expensive. For smaller speakers, what would be my best bet? I have a couple bookshelf speakers and one is on my computer desk as there's no room for it. I need it off there and want to slim down some.

DeThroned wrote:

I want an opinion on how to setup my surround sound system. By opinion I mean I want someone to come to the house and tell me the best way to get my living room to sound like a movie theater and maybe tweak my receiver so that I'm getting the best sound out of it. Do people do this? Is it going to cost me a fortune?

I really like the Orb speakers and love how minimalistic (whatever, it's a word even though it's got a squiggly red line under it) they look. I know people generally hate Bose as they are a bit more expensive. For smaller speakers, what would be my best bet? I have a couple bookshelf speakers and one is on my computer desk as there's no room for it. I need it off there and want to slim down some.

Set a budget. Then grab your checkbook and go to your local hifi store. Bear in mind that if you actually want a person to come round your house, you're likely to be paying an hourly rate as if you would a plumber. Unless you're dropping a bunch of cash on hardware for the setup, in which case the store might offer a setup service.

Couple of points:
1:"getting the best sound out of it" is a 112% subjective measure. What the fancy-pants audiophile guy thinks is best might not sound best to you.
2: "for smaller speakers, what would be my best bet?" is a useless question without a budget attached to it. Best bet for $100 and best bet for $1000 are going to give you very different answers, and very different performance.

EDIT - for cheaper options, have you RTFM'd? Your receiver might have some set-up directions for tuning a 5.1 or 7.1 set of speakers. Mine came with a mic that you plug in and an auto-calibration routine that it runs.

For home theater my goal is to create a setup that produces sounds with clear enough positioning that I actually on occasion mistake the movie sound for real sound, like it's actually coming from somewhere inside the house(!) I prefer this to trying to recreate a movie theater sound because psychologically i know I'm not in a huge open space that a theater offers. This really depends on the speakers more than anything else, but they don't need to be expensive. I use a pair of klh satellites that probably can be found used on eBay for $20 that perform admirably for a home theater (IMO of course). The Fluance speakers Vrikk is getting seem to use the same tweeter technology, so I wouldn't be surprised if I liked those just as much.

Rykin wrote:
McIrishJihad wrote:
Kehama wrote:

For the past several years I've used online TurboTax for filing my tax returns. I've also had to pay federal the past few years and this year is no different. I'm filing a joint return with itemized deductions. Would there be any point in trying out other online tax return sites or are the numbers pretty much the numbers? I keep seeing all of these tax sites claiming to get you "bigger returns!" but if everything is being calculated the way it's supposed to I don't see how one site can claim to get you a bigger return than another.

I've been using TT for the past few years too, but have only had to pay for State filings (joint, standard deduction, no dependents). I just keep sticking with them because they keep everything on file and I don't have to think about it.

I did use H&R Block a few times when I first got out of college, and never really saw the point in having someone else do my (relatively simple) taxes.

I have been using H&R Block Online for years but it looks like I will need to go see a real person this year since their online "Tax Experts" have let me down. Their software won't let me enter the info from my 1098-T as it appears on the sheet but no-one I have talked to can figure out what I am supposed to do. My Grants and Scholarships (box 7 I think) are greater than both my billed amount and additional expenses combined (my final semester was a short 6 hour one but for some reason I still got a full semester worth of grants and scholarships) so it says I may have to claim the excess as taxable income but nobody I have talked to knows how I can go about that and now they are waiting to charge me before I can get anymore support even though the last person I talked to just gave up and disconnected from the chat session with no warning or anything.

Oddly enough, I was listening to the YNAB podcast and the latest episode was entirely about tax planning and the benefit of using an actual tax accountant to do the work instead of software. Since the interview was with a tax accountant, there was some definite bias towards not using software. That said, the speaker did point out that there are apparently some transitional income points where the marginal tax rate on the income exceeding a particular limit is much higher as you lose a lot of benefits. This is where a tax accountant could be very useful in helping you figure out how to avoid those sorts of spikes.

If nothing else, you might want to look into the book mentioned in the show and see if that plus a combination of filing software can cover your needs.

Dethroned,

Back when I bought my surround system I picked up an SPL meter and a copy of Digital Video Essentials to set things up. It's mostly geared toward tweaking the picture settings on your TV, but it has a section on setting up the audio as well. Basically you sit in the spot where you'll most likely be watching tv and it runs test tones through each speaker. You watch the sound levels on the SPL meter and adjust each channel of your receiver so that the levels are all equal. You may not even need the disc, though, my reciever has a setting that plays test tones for each channel on its own.

the following topic was discussed whilst having drinks w/ friends the other night: How do werewolves work in space?

Questions that were raised:

Is it only Luna that triggers the transformation or do other moons work as well?
Do other moons impart different abilities onto the werewolf?
What about Pluto? It's neither a planet nor a moon, what would its effect be?
Would it be possible to maintain an orbit around the moon wherein you would be under the light of a full moon all the time?
Would they need special space suits that compensate for the size differential between their human and werewolf form?

The list goes on...

Radical Ans wrote:

the following topic was discussed whilst having drinks w/ friends the other night: How do werewolves work in space?

Questions that were raised:

Is it only Luna that triggers the transformation or do other moons work as well?
Do other moons impart different abilities onto the werewolf?
What about Pluto? It's neither a planet nor a moon, what would its effect be?
Would it be possible to maintain an orbit around the moon wherein you would be under the light of a full moon all the time?
Would they need special space suits that compensate for the size differential between their human and werewolf form?

The list goes on...

It's a moot point, as the Space Vampires won the war and destroyed all the Werewolves.

Coldstream wrote:
Radical Ans wrote:

the following topic was discussed whilst having drinks w/ friends the other night: How do werewolves work in space?

Questions that were raised:

Is it only Luna that triggers the transformation or do other moons work as well?
Do other moons impart different abilities onto the werewolf?
What about Pluto? It's neither a planet nor a moon, what would its effect be?
Would it be possible to maintain an orbit around the moon wherein you would be under the light of a full moon all the time?
Would they need special space suits that compensate for the size differential between their human and werewolf form?

The list goes on...

It's a moot point, as the Space Vampires won the war and destroyed all the Werewolves.

I WILL NOT BE SILENCED!! THE VAMPIRE BOURGEOISIE WILL NOT KEEP WOLF KIND DOWN!!

Radical Ans wrote:

the following topic was discussed whilst having drinks w/ friends the other night: How do werewolves work in space?

When you say "drinks" do you mean peyote?

In Stephen Fry in America, there's a scene where Stephen Fry is talking to his British audience about over easy eggs. He says it's probably the only phrase of American English they're sure to know, explains what over easy eggs are, and tries cooking them.

Do the British really not have over easy eggs? Is that really a well-known bit of American English? And is it really that hard to cook an over easy egg?

We should setup some kind of cultural exchange: they can add over easy eggs to their breakfast, and we'll add grilled tomatoes to ours.

In UK fashion, a fried egg will either be sunny side up, or the top will be cooked via spoon basting-not flipping it.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

In Stephen Fry in America, there's a scene where Stephen Fry is talking to his British audience about over easy eggs. He says it's probably the only phrase of American English they're sure to know, explains what over easy eggs are, and tries cooking them.

Do the British really not have over easy eggs? Is that really a well-known bit of American English? And is it really that hard to cook an over easy egg?

We should setup some kind of cultural exchange: they can add over easy eggs to their breakfast, and we'll add grilled tomatoes to ours.

There's a place in Pittsburgh that does a full English breakfast, but every time I'm there it's usually dinner time so I end up getting a pint of stout and a shepherd's pie.